UK card chain to expand into Ireland
UK high street retailer the Card Factory is gearing up for its entry to the Irish market, three years after it first floated a plan to open as many as 100 outlets here.
New CEO Karen Hubbard, who has been in the role for just a year, has told investors that she intends to pursue a strategy of expanding in Ireland and that there is a "clear opportunity" to build a strong presence here.
The retailer has just established a company in Ireland to spearhead the expansion.
Over the next three years, Card Factory plans to open a total of about 50 stores a year.
At the beginning of February 2016, it had 814 outlets across the UK, including a handful in the North, a figure that had risen to 865 at the end of last January.
Listed on the stock market, Card Factory posted revenue of £398.2m (€473.2m) in its last financial year, with like-for-like increases of under 1pc.
Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) was £98.5m (€117m), which was 3.8pc higher on the previous financial year. Its margin slipped slightly from 24.9pc to 24.7pc.
The profits fell as footfall to its stores declined.
But apart from paying a regular dividend, it also paid a special dividend to shareholders. It is a strong cash generator and has only a small amount of debt on its books.
The company floated on the stock market in May 2014, in an initial public offering that was widely seen as unsuccessful at the time.
But its market capitalisation has risen from £712m in 2014 to the current £1.1bn (€1.3bn).
Card Factory recently hired Edinburgh Woollen Mills finance boss Kristian Lee as its chief financial officer.